this). Basically, all YA books. I'm not sure how this transition happened. It might have come from the desire to read 100 books a year (which I've failed to do since 2009). YA books are nothing if not immensely readable. Maybe it was because I've been continually searching for a stand-in for Harry Potter (and now a stand-in for the Hunger Games). Or maybe its because they are just fun and require less work--something that I needed while trying to slog through grad school.
But lately, and I've also heard this echo across the blogosphere, I've become somewhat disenchanted with the YA books I've been reading. True gems--YA books that come with not just unique ideas, but also with the writing chops to see it through--IMO have become few and far between. It's not that the books I've picked up have been terrible (except for Fever...I just CAN'T with that book) they just lack some really important qualities.
The lack of fully considered world building has to be on top of this list. I tend to read mostly YA that would fall loosely into the sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal genres and world building is an important part of this genre. Especially for the post-apocalyptic/dystopian subgenre that is so incredibly popular now, thanks to the Hunger Games (which I am happy for, don't get me wrong, it's a favorite of mine). One of the reasons I read mostly YA in this genre is because the incredibly lengthy and elaborate world building of adult sci-fi/fantasy taxes my concentration and strains my ADD brain's ability to retain and focus on details. I like to think of the YA books in this genre as sci-fi/fantasy LITE. But LITE should never mean sloppy or lacking in research. To create a new world that will hold meaning for the reader, authors must first understand how this world works--socially, economically, and politically. The Hunger Games works because Collins thoroughly considers all three aspects in such a way that we can understand that world as its own entity but also in conjunction with our own world. An author can create an entirely new world or simply add new things to our own, but WE must still recognize the logic of that world for it work.
Trite romances. This is a big reason why I don't pick up many books marketed on the romance anymore. If the bulk of the story is based on two star-crossed lovers trying to be together AGAINST ALL ODDS, or the "nothing-is-special-about-me" heroine is pining for the hottest guy in the room and suddenly AGAINST ALL ODDS...he notices her, or the "the-only-thing-special-about-me-is-that-I-put-up-with-all-kinds-of-abuse" heroine (I'm looking at you SOOKIE) just can't understand why the hottest guy in the room is a total douchebag to her but she still wants him AGAINST ALL ODDS. Come on authors, show me what a real romance looks like. How do people really fall in love? This also opens up another conversation that I should probably tackle in a different post, but what are we teaching our teens with these ridiculous romances? Not that I think books should be or have to be role models (especially since we all would disagree on what that model should actually be), but do we have to keep bolstering these "love-at-first-sight/love-at-all-costs" farces? At one point, it was probably fun and escapist--to wish that finding your man and falling in love could be so easy. I would love to read a YA romance where two characters who meet eyes across a crowded room and instantly become soul mates actually DON'T end up together. Could someone please choose Team Jacob? If you found that book, please let me know. I will read it.
I could go on, but I think that's enough to illustrate my point. With all these frustrations, I can't help but ask myself, why am I still reading YA? Will there be a point when I just can't take it anymore and go back to being that "I only read literary fiction" person again? YA authors...I love y'all, but please don't neglect substance while you're giving me fun. I WANT IT ALL.